1st May, 2004
Deep in the Amazon rainforest, renegade logging firms are stealing the land of impoverished communities and stripping it of the trees on which the whole world depends. Greg Nasmyth boards a 700-tonne icebreaker to join a group of Greenpeace activists in their bid to stop them.
We were about eight kilometres into the rainforest when Marcelo called our motorcycle cavalcade to a halt. Other than a solid-looking stack of Jatoba logs lying to one side of the logging track, there appeared to be little reason why he should choose to stop at that point. The Jatoba, a huge canopy tree that can grow up to 30 metres in height, looked to have been recently cut. Its exposed, ruddy-brown heartwood was still raw, but no different to the hundreds of others we’d already seen since our arrival at the Fazenda Esperanca – an area set aside for controlled logging (a Forest Management Plan [FMP]) deep in the northern Brazilian state of Pará. It wasn’t until Marcelo bounded up the stacked logs and signalled for us to follow him that things became clearer. Beyond the logs lay another track, the entrance to which someone had gone to great lengths to conceal.
‘It’s illegal,’ announced Marcelo, pointing incriminatingly towards the deep, red, bulldozed scar disappearing into the forest beyond. ‘Is it outside of the permitted logging area?’ I asked; for once you enter the deep, all-enveloping canopy of the forest, there is no way in hell of knowing where you...
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